- Number 446 |
- August 24, 2015
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have the potential to dramatically drive down consumption of carbon-based fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the relatively high price of these vehicles—due in large part to the cost of batteries—has presented a major impediment to widespread market penetration. Researchers at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are playing a crucial role in identifying battery second use (B2U) strategies capable of offsetting vehicle expenses while improving utility grid stability.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, the energy storage technology of choice for PEVs, are typically the most expensive components in those vehicles, and their disposal presents environmental challenges. Second-use options support a broad spectrum of sustainable energy strategies, as they increase the potential for widespread PEV adoption by eliminating end-of-life automotive service costs, in addition to helping utilities support peak electricity demands while building a cleaner, more flexible electricity grid. NREL research confirms that after being used to power a car, a Li-ion battery retains approximately 70% of its initial capacity—making its reuse a valuable energy storage option for electric utilities, before battery materials are recycled.
Some algae like Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (or “Chlamy,” as it’s known to its large research community) produce energy-dense oils or lipids when stressed, and these lipids can then be converted into fuels. However, bioenergy researchers walk a fine line in stressing the algae just enough to produce lipids, but not enough to kill them. Published ahead online July 27, 2015 in the journal Nature Plants, a team led by scientists from DOE's Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, analyzed the genes that are being activated during algal lipid production, and in particular the molecular machinery that orchestrates these gene activities inside the cell when it produces lipids.
“We know how to stress the algae,” said the study’s first author Chew Yee Ngan of the DOE JGI. “What we don’t know is how to keep the algae alive at the same time, until now.”
Until recently, there were very little experimental data about the behavior of beryllium (Be) at very high pressures and strain rates, with existing material models predicting very different behaviors in these regimes. In a successful example of international research collaboration, a team of scientists from DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Russian Federal Nuclear Center-All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) changed this field of knowledge.
In a recent paper published on the cover of the Journal of Applied Physics, the team showed that at extreme conditions, beryllium has very little strength and most models over-predict its material strength.
“This finding has important implications for scientists working with technology where beryllium is subject to extreme pressures and strain-rates,” said Marc Henry de Frahan, lead author of the paper. Henry de Frahan began conducting this research as a summer student with LLNL’s NIF and Photon Science Directorate and is now a graduate student at the University of Michigan.
The perception of oil and gas well control has evolved over the last century. In the late 1800s and early1900s, blowouts were held in high esteem, with “gushers” romanticized as a symbol of prosperity. Over time, however, these gushers became associated with the destruction of materials, human and environmental impacts, and a loss of marketable resources, leading to development of well control technologies.
Kicks provide the first indication that a well is becoming unstable. A kick can start as a slow leak from a pressured formation into the wellbore, but the flow increases as the influx of lower density reservoir fluid reduces the hydrostatic pressure exerted by the drilling fluid at the source of the flow. This causes the well to become underbalanced, requiring intervention for the operator to regain control. Failure to regain control usually results in a blowout.